Personally, I’ve never believed there’s anything wrong with therapy. My parents divorced when I was 10 and I was in and out of therapy during my teenage years. It helped me process a huge change in my life and I look back with a tremendous amount of appreciation that my parents chose to go in that direction. But still, I’ve heard numerous friends and family discuss therapy as something that’s taboo because it’s for “crazy people”…..pffffttt!
After almost 10 years together, five years of working together and three years of marriage, my husband and I have both learned a lot about ourselves, each other and our togetherness. Especially when it comes to changing together. Growth and change internally is hard enough, but to have a partner who goes through these changes with you, or who you watch go through changes, can at times prove to be even more challenging.
Relationships are tricky this way, and we all know we’ve been on the right and wrong side at one point. In my relationship, this has been something my husband Freddie and I have had to work on since day one. We are both so strong minded and believe passionately in what we believe in. So much so that it got us to a point that we both agreed, we needed some external advice. It’s private and not a lot of people talk about it. But sometimes, an outside perspective can be just what you need.
Taking the first step to couple’s therapy is intimidating! Broaching the topic with your partner can go one of two ways – that’s scary enough. Then you have to find someone to trust your deepest feelings with. And you have to be prepared for the inevitable emotion it will bring up. It’s deep, especially if it’s the first time. But what’s so important to remember is that you have to start somewhere in order to make a healthy change.
So if you’ve found yourself in a place in your relationship where you think you need a little outside help, I thought I’d share my story and a few things I’ve learned along the way to make sure you, too, have a positive experience.
Find a professional you trust
There are plenty of apps these days that can help you locate a therapist that’s either in your health network or someone who has good reviews. But there’s nothing better than a personal recommendation. Talk to your friends who are in relationships – it’s how we found ours. I guarantee you, a lot more people are in couple’s therapy than you think and a recommendation will come easier than you imagine. A good therapist won’t only have a professional website and detailed reviews, but look to see if that person has written papers or articles about their practice. It’s a great way to get to know a therapist’s approach before booking.
Communicate your truth
This process only works when you are honest with yourself and others. It can be totally terrifying to sit in a room with a stranger and the person you love most in this world! Especially to confess fears you have, anxieties about your relationship, or anger and resentment. But getting to the root of real issues is imperative if you want to find the tools to be able to work through them. Be honest!
Apply advice in your daily life
As with anything in life, practice makes perfect. OK, well maybe not perfect, but practice of anything will help reinforce what you’re learning. A good therapist will leave you with takeaways that you can practice throughout the day in your relationship with yourself. And even in your relationship with others. Therapy is not a quick fix or a band-aid, it’s a process. And it usually involves working through emotions. Being mindful of those tools in every moment is the only thing that will spark a positive change.
Check in periodically
One of the most valuable lessons we learned was about each other, how we communicate, and ways to effectively talk to each other in moments of tension before things escalate and miscommunication happens. Now, Freddie and I check in periodically when we start hitting roadblocks. Even if things feel OK, it’s smart to be honest and check in with each other. Or to make an appointment if you feel tensions higher than normal, and you’re unable to work through things.
Have you considered couple’s therapy?